Basic Guinea Pig Care Guide

Amanda Piunno, Photo Essay Writer, Review Writer

Thinking about owning some of your own guinea pigs? Follow this simple guide to make sure you’re prepared, and do lots of your own research! This is only a simple guide and may not contain all the information you need.

Enclosure

  • The minimum square footage for one guinea pig is square 7.5 feet of floor space, however square 10.5 feet is preferred. With the addition of other members, it is best to provide an additional 2-4 square feet of floor space. Ramps and second floors don’t make up for the square footage as guinea pigs love to zoom around and aren’t naturally climbers.
  • In the enclosure, you will need a water bottle, a small bowl for pellets, a designated area for hay, at least one appropriately sized hiding space per pig, and lots of things to chew on.
  • Chew toys are cheap and sold at most if not all pet stores. Refrain from fun colorful ones and go for more natural wood ones, that way you can prevent them from swallowing paint. Chew toys are a must; due to their teeth growing so rapidly, they need to chew to keep them trimmed. 
  • Keep the enclosure away from drafty windows and direct sunlight. These rodents overheat easily so be careful, especially in Arizona. 

Diet/Vitamin Supplements

  • Though pet stores usually recommend pellets as the main source of diet for guinea pigs, that doesn’t provide the proper nutrition for your pets. Pellets should be available always in a small bowl for supplementing. 
  • Western timothy hay should be the main source of diet for these creatures. You should have a large amount available in the enclosure at all times.
  • Guinea pigs require at least 10–30 mg of vitamin C a day. Since it isn’t good for them to eat things that contain them like citrus fruits, natural vitamin C tablets for guinea pigs are available at most chain pet stores and should be given once a day.
  • On top of this, they require a cup of fresh vegetables a day per g-pig. The best being dark spring mix lettuce, kale, spinach, Romaine lettuce, carrots, and sweet peppers. Celery, basil, tomatoes, and dandelion can be offered in moderation a few times a week as well.
  • Fruit will be a treat to your guinea pigs and can be given in very small portions every once in a while. Strawberries, watermelon, apples, banana, and seedless grapes will be safest. 
  • Make sure all fresh foods that are given are organic, pesticide free, and washed before given to your pets. 

Companionship

  • Unlike hamsters and other small animals, guinea pigs actually require companionship. In the wild, they live in herds of around eight to ten. This doesn’t mean you need to keep eight guinea pigs together, but keeping at least two together is mandatory.
  • If you have only two and one dies, you must get another one. It’s horrible for your pigs to have no social interaction with another of its species. If you wish not to keep on getting guinea pigs, you’ll have to find someone to introduce your living one to their own group or surrender them to a shelter. 

Other Things You Should Know

  • The average lifespan of a guinea pig is about five to seven years, but some have lived to be up to ten. These are the longest living domestic rodents. 
  • Your piggy will need a yearly checkup with an exotic vet. 
  • They’re very messy.
  • They’re very noisy.